Moving to Portugal Checklist

If you are relocating to Portugal you will need to think about the paperwork as well as the packing! I decided to do it step by step – I went over from the UK to get my NIF number and residency. Then I came back to the UK for Christmas and to get all of my stuff packed. Here’s my checklist for relocating to Portugal….

1. Packing

Remember to check with your airline what you baggage allowance is so that you don’t get charged. If you are relocating to Portugal it may be worth paying for some excess baggage in advance, depending how much you need to bring. Portugal’s weather can vary so do pack walking boots and a waterproof especially if you are arriving in the winter months. Other good items to pack include comfy casual clothes such as jeans, shorts and T-shirts. A bikini and sarong are good for the beach in the summer months. A sunhat and a water bottle is also a good idea as it can get hot in Portugal. But above all else if you are moving over there make sure that you pack all of your essential documents including passport, driving license, marriage certificate and birth certificate (originals!). Take some cash in Euros and a bank or credit card that will work internationally as a backup.

2. NIF – Número de Identificação Fiscal or Número de Contribuinte

The NIF number Portugal will issue you is basically a tax number or fiscal number. You cannot really do anything in Portugal without this. You need it for buying a house, renting a property, and making any kind of transaction – you’re even asked for your NIF or ‘Contribuinte’ when you go to the local supermarket! The NIF is first on the list because it is something that you can get with your UK number – you don’t need a Portuguese number to get a NIF (as foreigners can buy property in Portugal without living there such as a holiday home) but if you are applying for residency you will want to update your address on your NIF to your Portuguese one as soon as you get it.

3. Visa and Residency

Check with your Foreign Office or Embassy on the visa requirements for your country. If you are coming to Portugal from an EU country you can apply for CRUE (Certificado de Registo de Cidadão da União Europeia) without the need for a Visa. The CRUE formalises your right to stay for more than 90 days. If this is the case apply for residency BEFORE your 90 days runs out or you could get fined! Go along to your local Camara with your passport, NIF and proof of address (you may need to make an appointment in advance).

For people outside of the EU you may need to apply for a working visa depending on your profession and where you are from and then apply for residency after that through SEF. If you are employed by a Portuguese company then they are likely to sort all of that out for you. If not, here are some things that you might need when applying for a visa and residency:

  • Passport
  • NIF number
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of funds (bank statement preferably Portuguese bank)
  • Criminal record check
  • Proof of employment (either in Portugal or abroad if remote)

4. Utente – SNS Healthcare Number

If you intend to access the Portuguese National Health system (SNS – Servico Nacional de Saude) you will need to apply for a Utente Number. If you have residency in Portugal you can go along to your local Saude (make sure it’s the right one) and present your Passport, residency certificate and NIF number. You may be asked for an S1 form if you are a pensioner or in receipt of certain benefits. This entitles you to access to state healthcare on the same basis as a Portuguese citizen. They will probably encourage you to have an initial checkup so make sure that you have time for that.

5. Bank Account – I recommend ActivoBank or Millennium Bank

The best bank account to go for is probably ActivoBank because there are very few charges and everything can be done online through the app. If you go to the Chiado ActivoBank branch in Lisbon all of the staff speak excellent English.

In order to open a bank account in Portugal you will need the following documents:

  • Passport (and Driving licence if you have one)
  • Proof of income e.g. Payslip
  • Proof of Portuguese address e.g. Utility Bill
  • NIF number
  • Proof of Residency
  • Original Marriage certificate (especially if any of your documents are in your maiden name)

You may not be asked for all of the above, but it’s better to have it! They queried my account application – it was initially refused because my payslip was in my maiden name but my passport was in my married name. So I sent them a copy of my marriage certificate, but this was not accepted because it was ‘cut’ – the copies were in two halves! We photographed the marriage certificate to fit all on one page, exported to PDF and then emailed it in and it was accepted! I then got an email back saying yes – come into the branch and sign for your account. I got the card there and then on signing. The staff were extremely helpful.

6. Changing your Driving Licence

Depending on the country that you are moving from you may have to change your driving licence to a Portuguese one if you are a resident. There has been a lot of bitterness about Brexit from Brits lately as they are having to do this as a result of BREXIT! If you are an EU citizen you may not need to change your license but always double check to make sure that you are not driving in Portugal illegally!

7. Registering in the Portuguese Tax system

If you are in Portugal as a resident you will be responsible for delcaring your worldwide income. You automatically become a tax resident in Portugal after you have spent 183 days there or moved there to get residency with the intention to work and live in Portugal. This may not mean that you have to pay more tax (for example there is a dual taxation agreement currently between UK and Portugal) but you will be breaking the law if your tax is not declared. Always check with an accountant.

If you are freelancing in Portugal you will need to register as self employed in the Portuguese tax system.

Remember that you may be eligible to apply for NHR (Non habitual residency) which offers certain tax breaks to those who are illegible, so check to see if you will be able to apply for this.

International taxes can be very complex, and so if you are relocating to Portugal you are advised to seek help from a professional. Not declaring income to the Portuguese authorities is an offence and heavy fines can result.

Well, those are the main things that I had to do when I moved to Portugal and I hope that it helps you! All the best relocating to Portugal and if you can think of anything that I have missed off this list please leave a comment below. You might also like to read about the challenges of moving to Portugal and The Cost of Living in Portugal.

7 thoughts on “Moving to Portugal Checklist”

  1. Just as an FYI to any new comers to Portugal: Doing anything in Portugal can be very challenging and take several attempts to get it right. TRIPLE CHECK everything. Don’t accept the advice of a professional as law, they often get things wrong! Simple processes in the UK can take weeks/months in Portugal. The infrastructure is excessively bureaucratic and arduous in comparison. Even opening a bank account requires a 2 hour interview which does not guarantee you an account. You’d think ‘who cares’ with the like of Revolut but many cafes, bars and the nationwide toll booth system do not accept foreign payment cards. Think of the UK back in the 1990s and you will have an idea of who long it takes to get setup. However, the sun shines everyday!

    • Absolutely agree Dave, thanks so much for dropping by and leaving your advice. It took me 3 days to get a bank account but I got there in the end!!!!


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